Hardcore Gamer

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2806 Published Reviews

Nobody Saves the World

PC
8.00
Jordan HelmJan 18, 2022
Even if the occasional writing doesn’t hit in the way the studio is hoping. But credit to Drinkbox for not falling into the trap of becoming too reliant on roguelite mechanics in so far as how the world is structured and how players go about rising to the task. Because what truly shines here is the studio’s ability to encourage experimentation without it feeling, like its level progression, too much of a burden to take on. Added to on top by well-suited side-quests, a challenge system that rarely gets tiresome and a general feeling throughout that one’s time never feels wasted, Nobody Saves the World stands as Drinkbox’s most curious but mechanically-satisfying title to date.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

PC
9.00
Adam BeckDec 15, 2021
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is the perfect sendoff to a saga that was started over a decade ago. Shadowbringers was a monumental step forward for the MMO in terms of storytelling and character development, and yet somehow, the writers were able to create something even more remarkable. You’ll go through a number of emotions: anger, joy, sadness, fear, awe and so many more.

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon

PC
9.00
Kyle LeClairDec 15, 2021
Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon may seem like a minor yet unexpected twist for the franchise, but it’s a twist that pays off big time. The core gameplay is easy to get into, but you quickly discover that there’s a deeper level of strategy required, and the next thing you know, you’re on a streak of multiple runs, trying to get past that one particular level.

Clockwork Aquario

Switch
8.00
Jeremy PeeplesDec 14, 2021
Clockwork Aquario is a fantastic action-platformer that blends quick-moving playable characters and enemies alongside an inventive attack strategy. There’s nothing else like it on the market today — despite so many games trying to replicate arcade-style fun. The big key here is that this is a legit arcade game that has been repurposed for modern hardware and that allows it to retain what made arcade gaming so fun, while having more modern quality-of-life improvements thrown in.

After the Fall

PC
6.00
Cory WellsDec 14, 2021
After The Fall is yet another zombie VR shooter in the line of zombie VR shooters. The team that was responsible for Arizona Sunshine tries to build upon that with a cooperative experience that succeeds in that regard, but the overall experience isn’t that satisfying. The gun mechanics with the Oculus Quest 2 mostly work great and the PVP is a nice surprise, but the overall lack of current content and annoying bugs hurt the game at launch.

Asteroids: Recharged

PC
7.00
James CunninghamDec 13, 2021
While Asteroids: Recharged is a decent update of the classic game and is a welcome return for the series, it’s also not as effective at tugging on the nostalgia strings as the previous Recharged games. Asteroids as a formula is well-traveled ground, and it’s hard not to miss the long-gone Spheres of Chaos while playing.

Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX

PC
7.00
Adam BeckDec 08, 2021
Monster Rancher 1&2 DX is a blast from the past, letting fans re-experience a classic while introducing new players to the franchise. The big take away is that these games have not aged particularly well. Mechanically, it’s rough around the edges, at least within the battle system. Raising a monster is one of the more compelling components as fans of micromanaging time and effort will have a blast.

Wolfstride

PC
7.00
Kyle LeClairDec 08, 2021
Wolfstride has its flaws, but if you’re willing to get past them, it ends up having a unique charm in its story, characters and combat that’s worth checking out. Sure, the giant anime mech battles may be a main draw, but you’ll stay for the clever bits of character development and glimpses into the history and personalities of these rascals as you get to know them. Wolfstride doesn’t always land with a huge mechanical blow, but it can still deliver a decent hit overall.

White Shadows

PC
6.00
Jordan HelmDec 07, 2021
That little is offered in the other direction that’s in anyway damaging to the experience or worthy of ridicule, yet neither does anything warrant an expression any better than a figurative shrugging of the shoulders. In the end White Shadows, in all its many off-kilter interspersing of music pieces, plays things safe. A fine, if by-the-numbers entrant whose uninspired delivery we’ve all found ourselves tiredly accustomed to.

HALO Infinite

PC
8.00
Cory WellsDec 06, 2021
Halo Infinite concludes a good run of 2021 Microsoft exclusives and it stands up to the best of what the Halo series has offered over its near twenty year run. The hybrid linear and open-world concept is enjoyable on its surface, but could’ve gone deeper on the open-world side. Co-op will aid this down the road, but the lack of any type of customization for weapons or secrets will make it no more than a mode to mess around with.

Archvale

PC
8.00
James CunninghamDec 01, 2021
Archvale focuses on intense fantasy-RPG shooting action and giving the player all the tools necessary to handle it their way, and the result is a game that’s next to impossible to put down until the last arch stone is collected and even then maybe not. There’s never a bad time to test out Hardcore mode’s bigger maps and denser bullet patterns, after all.

Solar Ash

PC
9.00
Kyle LeClairDec 01, 2021
Solar Ash is another triumph from Heart Machine, a fast-paced burst of vibrant, surreal science fiction where players get to glide and jump around fascinating worlds with terrific bits of platforming and action spread out across a series of unique worlds with jaw-dropping visuals. Be it gliding across clouds, grinding on rails to jump between buildings, or sneaking up on and successfully slashing at the one wall-based creature that fires lasers at you, virtually everything here is an absolute joy to experience.

Danganronpa Decadence

Switch
9.00
Kirstin SwalleyNov 29, 2021
Danganronpa is bizarre in the best kind of way. It’s an engaging visual novel that never stops being excessive, but so many of the characters are charming it’s easy to want to learn about what happens and see if favorites will make it out alive or perish at the end.

Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp

Switch
6.00
Kirstin SwalleyNov 29, 2021
The biggest single addition this spin-off could have used would be adding some sort of multiplayer support so at least players wouldn’t feel burdened by going at it alone and could instead take it on with a few more friends. It’s still a fine enough experience, but it’s just a shame there’s not a lot here outside of the board and continual fights. The unique little story scenarios are kind of interesting at first, but it’s quickly apparent that they don’t have a ton of actual substance to them either. Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp has a lot of charm at first, but it falls flat when it comes to the actual lack of interesting gameplay it offers.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond

SwitchSwitch
9.00
Kirstin SwalleyNov 24, 2021
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the best remakes we’ve gotten since Heart Gold and Soul Silver and offer up a fantastic, faithful yet slightly re-imagined version of Sinnoh to enjoy before the next entry in the series makes its debut.

Among Trees

PC
7.00
James CunninghamNov 22, 2021
Among Trees is a game that ends up being more pretty than good, but then again it’s incredibly pretty so that’s a high bar to clear. For every element there’s something that doesn’t quite work, such as a good fishing system that’s let down by lack of inventory to fully store the day’s haul, or a fire pit that for the life of me I never could figure out how to re-light once it burned down.

Exo One

PC
7.00
Jordan HelmNov 18, 2021
Intentions that, thanks to a simple control scheme, makes the act of journeying across these varied environments one to marvel at. Short and sweet but in no way significantly dented by its own strict vision and run-time, Exo One‘s picturesque voyage through one far-flung planet to the next, though not without fault, is more engaging and novel than it is mildly indulgent.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition

PS4
8.00
Chris ShiveNov 18, 2021
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Anniversary Edition is one of those things that is simultaneously great and yet seems unnecessary. We can all agree Skyrim is a phenomenal game as it’s cited as a personal favorite of the past decade by a few members of our staff. The thing is with this update is nothing about it seems essential.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition

PS5
6.00
Chris ShiveNov 15, 2021
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition is a collection of three of the greatest games of the early 2000s. Unfortunately, there are too many technical issues to rightfully call this the definitive edition. This is a case of two steps forward, one step back. There are improvements to the mechanics for gun battles, but on the other hand the visual enhancements aren’t always improvements.

Final Fantasy V

PC
8.00
Chris ShiveNov 12, 2021
Final Fantasy V is one of the more overlooked titles in the franchise, but skipping this title would be a mistake. Its story may not reach some of the highs as other entries in the franchise, but it’s still compelling enough to keep players interested. While it might not have the best Final Fantasy story, however, it has one of the best job systems. There’s grinding involved to get some of the exceptional abilities, but the freedom to customize a party however the player wants offers many opportunities for creative party configurations and encourages multiple playthroughs.

Battlefield 2042

PC
7.00
Kevin DunsmoreNov 11, 2021
Ripple Effect Studios and Battlefield Portal turn much of that on its head, providing a robust creator, additional content from previous Battlefield titles and a wealth of ways to experience Battlefield. Portal’s immense replayability, reverence for the past and creativity help alleviate 2042’s content drought. Battlefield 2042 is a fun game to play, but its base game content will leave you wanting. Thankfully, Battlefield Portal is there to pick up the slack and does so splendidly. There’s still some gas left in Battlefield’s tank.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Switch
9.00
Chris ShiveNov 11, 2021
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remains one of the best games ever made and arguably the best Star Wars game. Aside from shorter loading times and higher resolution, nothing is drastically changed on Switch, which is perfectly fine as this is one of those games that doesn’t need much tinkering.

ElecHead

PC
8.00
Jordan HelmNov 06, 2021
One whose subtleties and routes to success are integrated in just the right spots and at precisely the right times. Nama Takahashi’s creation here is not the most extravagant nor is it the most lavish in detail, but that marriage of an easy-to-grasp gimmick and reliance on visual suggestion means ElecHead is not only striking, but joyous to play through too.

Call of Duty: Vanguard

PS5
8.00
Kevin DunsmoreNov 04, 2021
There are interesting ideas and story beats, but they’re never given the necessary time and characterization to form a compelling campaign. Despite stumbling with the campaign, however, Call of Duty: Vanguard nails the Call of Duty experience everywhere else thanks to its stellar multiplayer and fun Zombies. Sledgehammer may have finally found their niche in the Call of Duty franchise.

Forza Horizon 5

PC
9.00
Cory WellsNov 04, 2021
The racing remains fun with more multiplayer options and new Expeditions and other fresh events. Expeditions do tend to take way from the racing, but deserve kudos for trying something new. The formula also remains the same, for better or worse, but you’re always going to have something to do in the game. Ultimately, Forza Horizon 5 is the best in the series thus far.